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Press watch: Tax protests

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City A.M. reported (8 December) that ‘Kraft has asked for police advice to protect its factories from protesters after City A.M. revealed it may be targeted for moving parts of its business offshore’.

Steve Dinneen reported: ‘Kraft says parts of Cadbury will still be registered in the UK but that the ownership of most of the firm would move into line with Kraft’s other European operations in Switzerland.’ A spokesman for protest group UK Uncut ‘confirmed Cadbury could be a target but said it has not made any final decisions’.

The Guardian (3 December) quoted a Kraft spokesman as saying: ‘Switzerland is a tax-efficient location, but the business decision was about growing the top line of the company.’

‘Consumers have a choice of targets when trying to nudge alleged tax dodgers into better behaviour,’ Patrick Hosking wrote in The Times (8 December).

He observed that demonstrators had succeeded in closing down ‘several Topshop stores’ in protest over the tax arrangements of Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green and his Monaco-based wife, and a Sunday newspaper was ‘urging shoppers to shun Kraft cheese after the American owner of Cadbury tweaked its corporate structure so that less of Cadbury’s profits are taxed in the UK’.

Hosking added: ‘Resentment over tax is likely to intensify as VAT is raised and after-tax incomes lag prices. Those seen, rightly or wrongly, as not paying their fair share could be targeted further. These protests are a minority sport, for now, but companies ignore threats to their reputation at their peril. It might not take much for them to snowball into something more serious.’